|Heads of delegation to ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat
The retreat discussed orientations for defence-security cooperation among ASEAN nations in 2018, which focuses on counter-terrorism, collaboration in responding to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, and a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) as proposed by Singapore – the Chair of ASEAN this year.
Along with newly arising challenges, heads of delegation to the event agreed that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) needs maintain unity and keep vigilant over old security challenges such as sovereignty and territorial disputes and maritime security.
Speaking at the meeting, Vinh affirmed that Vietnam welcomed the three targets of the ASEAN in 2018 as proposed by Singapore, stressing the need for strengthened cooperation in coping with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
For the past five decades, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have suffered serious consequences of chemical weapons used during wartime, he said, adding that Vietnam is willing to share experience in preventing and decontaminating toxic chemicals.
Regarding the CUES, Vinh emphasised that it must be associated with the East Sea issue, especially in preparation for the formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
As there remain latent risks in the East Sea issue, the ASEAN member states should continue intensifying cooperation and sharing information about the sea situation, with the focus placed on abiding by international law, respecting the diplomatic and legal processes, maintaining maritime and aviation security and safety by strictly implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and working towards the early finalisation of the legally-binding COC, Vinh suggested.
On the sidelines of the ADMM Retreat, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received the heads of delegation. He spoke highly of the countries’ contributions to the ASEAN defence cooperation process and stressed the need to strengthen solidarity within the bloc to tackle common security challenges.
The ASEAN-China Defence Ministers Informal Meeting also took place with the participation of defence leaders of the ASEAN member nations and Chinese Defence Minister Sen. Lieut. Gen. Chang Wanquan.
The ASEAN defence leaders affirmed that cooperative relations between the ASEAN and China are developing fruitfully many areas. The ASEAN countries expect that through cooperation, China will contribute to strengthening peace, stability and security in the region.